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characterisation

Hollywood Science

Everyone knows that films are make believe. Everyone knows whole chunks of movies would never stand up, let alone be achieved in so-called “real life”. Right? Apparently not. I have lost count of the number of times someone has watched a film with me and argued that something “could never happen” and thus suck the fun out of it, particularly action movies. (Note I’m saying nothing about narrative logic here: I’m talking about those moments in film that are incredible, but not so incredible within the world of the story we are watching). For me it works like this: as… Read More »Hollywood Science

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10 On TV Drama: Soap, Flourescent TV

I love Soap Opera – oops, sorry: I mean “continuing drama”, foolish of me. Soap Opera is naturally a poor title, since it implies this kind of drama is melodramatic and somewhat, well, soapy which connotes the notion (to me at least) that whilst it might *seem* ordinary on the outside, if ingested it causes an unpleasant taste in the mouth and potential stomach upsets. Okay, that is not working at all. Let’s try again. I like Soap Opera because of this: That’s right, the scraps. Or fights, fisticuffs, rucks, rowdiness or whatever else you’d care to call them. A… Read More »10 On TV Drama: Soap, Flourescent TV

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Keep It Simple: What Writers Can Learn About Plot From Music Videos

The scripts that pass through my door or desktop often share one thing in common: they’re not simple enough. As I’ve said here, here, here and here, so often stories have so many threads it’s hard to know exactly what is going on as it is difficult to see which is the “main” one. It’s not something that features suffer from exclusively either; often TV pilots have a similar issue and I’ve even seen short films with it too on the page and on-screen. So how can we prevent ourselves from overloading a script with too much plot? By keeping… Read More »Keep It Simple: What Writers Can Learn About Plot From Music Videos

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10 On TV Drama #4: Cops N’ Docs, Pt 2 – Dashing Docs and Naughty Nurses

SPOILERS PRESENT AS ALWAYS Carrying on with our “Cops N’ Docs” theme, I am going to investigate a long-running medical drama that I have watched from the start: Holby City. What makes it work, what brings the audiences back, week on, week out? Let’s take a look… HOLBY CITY (1999 – PRESENT) LOGLINE: The everyday lives, professional and personal, of the doctors, nurses and patients who find themselves, for various reasons, in the wards of the frenetic cardiac unit of Holby City General Hospital. Casualty began back in the eighties and whilst I have also watched this from the start,… Read More »10 On TV Drama #4: Cops N’ Docs, Pt 2 – Dashing Docs and Naughty Nurses

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10 on TV Drama #3: Cops N’ Docs, Part 1: Cops, 3 of The Best

WARNING: Spoilers Ahoy When TV Drama Bibles and pilot episodes come into Bang2write, I get a distinct lack of cops and docs, drama’s all-time staples. In fact, I would venture I get anything but. Yet why is this? Time has shown, over and over again, that “cops and docs” are favourites – and for this very reason, a new angle on this would surely be welcome on any commissioner’s table? If we look at the evidence CSI-style, we can see that cops and docs have any number of variations that people are willing (or have been willing) to watch. Here… Read More »10 on TV Drama #3: Cops N’ Docs, Part 1: Cops, 3 of The Best

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10 on TV Drama #2: CSI: MIAMI and CSI:NY

WARNING: SPOILERSIn any franchise, there’s bound to be some dilution: if the subsequent Alien films lacked the shock value of that very first chestburst because we’d seen it before, then it’s kind of inevitable that CSI: Miami and CSI: NY are thought of as “nowhere near as good” as Crime Scene Investigation. I saw Anthony Zuicker on telly and he said he was literally whisked into an Exec’s office after a successful run of Crime Scene Investigation and told, “Come up with a city.” He said, “Erm…. Miami.” Whammo, said faceless Exec puts the wheels in motion: we’re gonna do… Read More »10 on TV Drama #2: CSI: MIAMI and CSI:NY

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10 On TV Drama #1: CSI [Las Vegas]

WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS When Bang2write first started, I got nearly without exception only features. These days I get a lot of shorts and competition entries (I read a lot of Red Planet ten-pagers for example) as well as proposals, treatments and even short stories that scribes write for themselves so they can “know their story and characters inside out” which I think is a particularly good idea. In the last year, TV Drama has become a big thing amongst my Bang2writers. With every week that passes I get at least one TV Drama Pilot, sometimes with a Bible… Read More »10 On TV Drama #1: CSI [Las Vegas]

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Transactional Characterisation

WARNING: Spoilers present Eric Berne developed a theory in the 1950’s called Transactional Analysis (TA). This theory is based around the notin that when communicating, human beings actively “give something” to one another; in other words, a transaction takes place. It is a thoery widely used in teaching in the UK (possibly too widely and to its detriment in my view, but that’s a debate for another time): give your students positivity, they will be positive learners; give them negativity, make them hate you and learning in general. The notion then is very simple at its heart. But Eric Berne… Read More »Transactional Characterisation

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Character Sacrifice

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!!! Mentioned – Aliens, Severance, Night People, Dog Soldiers, Devil’s Advocate, CSI:NY, Eastenders and Spooks. “Greater love hath no man than this,: that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John, 15:13) David Bishop makes a good point this morning about Dr. Who and two characters that sacrifice themselves to fight a big scary monster while their friends get away. Unfortunately, those two characters don’t do it at the same time, but separately, one after the other, so ultimately the viewer is left bored at the repetition. Whether it’s scary monsters, a terrorist attack… Read More »Character Sacrifice

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Story Vs Plot

So Phill Barron has this post about character vs story, with a hilarious (not to mention foul-mouthed) paraphrasing of Tony Jordan’s assertion that it’s character, not story, you should start with when coming up with your ideas for scripts. Yet should you start with character? This is an interesting point. Certainly when I was at university I had a lecturer who was absolutely positive it was character. He would bang on about the fact we had to know EVERYTHING about our characters, even what they “had for breakfast”. We would get character sheets where we would have to write character… Read More »Story Vs Plot

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The Main Plot and The Sub Plot

I see a lot of scripts that are what I call, King Lear Drafts. King Lear drafts are screenplays with essentially two main plots: for those of you who have not read King Lear (shame on you!), we follow the fates of – unsurprisingly – a King called Lear whom is arrogant and proud and casts his good daughter Cordelia out of his kingdom for speaking her mind, keeping his evil daughters Goneril and Regan who plot to bring about his downfall. Pretty stern stuff one might think, but oh no: Shakespeare is a little worried perhaps we might not… Read More »The Main Plot and The Sub Plot

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